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Pros - great tasting coffee, slick design
Cons - no auto shut off, no timer, more steps than usual to make coffee.
Hand made in the Netherlands, the Technivorm Moccamaster is one of the few drip coffee makers in the world to have received the seal of approval from the European Coffee Brewing Centre and the Specialty Coffee Association of America and Europe. After a month of testing, ChefTalk found the Technivorm Moccamaster truly does brew one of the best cups of coffee we have tasted. But, it comes with some sacrifices.
Model Tested: Technivorm Black Moccamaster KBT-741
Technivorm Moccamaster review sample was provide by Williams-Sonoma
Construction and Heating Element
At first glance you might not think that the Moccamaster is a coffee maker at all. In fact, our first reaction was that it looks like something you would see in a chemistry lab and not a kitchen. The machine is made up of a solid rectangular tower that holds the large copper heating element. On top of the tower is a clear, plastic, water reservoir with both U.S. and Metric water level markings. From the plastic reservoir comes a brew wand that hovers over a covered filter basket. Although it is taller than most coffee machines it will fit just fine under the kitchen cabinets.
Along with a unique design, the Moccamaster has a much sturdier and more industrial feel to the construction. Coming from the back of the machine is a heavy gauge electrical cord with a heavy duty, three prong plug that you would normally see on power tools. The reason for the three prong plug and the heavy duty electrical cord is so that it can transfer enough electricity for the huge copper coil heating element that is responsible for the quick and even heat of the water. There is a great video review by Cook’s Illustrated in which they actually take apart the Moccamaster and show the copper heating element. http://www.cooksillustrated.com/video/default.asp?newVideo=y&docid=17108
One of the absolute key ingredients in a great cup of coffee is the temperature of the water at which the coffee is brewed. Temperature makes all the difference between a great cup of coffee and a mediocre one. In our tests we found that thanks to the massive copper heating element, the Moccamaster heats the water rapidly to the proper temperature and maintains the temperature while brewing. A 10 cup pot of coffee can be brewed in as few as 5-6 minutes.
It may sound odd, but the fact that there are so many removable parts to the machine comes off as both a pro and con. The machine has a cover for the water, a cover for the filter basket, a brew wand, and footplate (for the carafe to rest on). All of these are not attached to the machine. This is positive in the sense that it assists you in being able to keep the coffee maker clean, allows you to replace parts that become worn, and keeps the coffee tasting great. However, it can become a bit frustrating after awhile to have to remove the water cover and the grounds cover each time to make coffee. In addition, you either have to swing the brew wand away from the filter basket or remove the basket in order to place grounds into the basket. In total you have three parts to manipulate when making coffee which seems over-complicated. I can live with moving the brew wand but it seemed more logical to simply make the cover for the water and the cover for the filter basket one piece. If you are used to a coffee maker which allows you to simply lift the lid to put in water and grounds then the Technivorm will take some getting used to. It is a small sacrifice though considering the flavor is so much better than what you get from other high end coffee machines.
Brewing coffee and flavor
Brewing coffee with the Technivorm Moccamaster will take you some getting used to. With most coffee makers on today’s market the coffee exits the machine piping hot and in some cases you can even adjust the temperature to make it even hotter. The Moccamaster brews the coffee at the precise temperature it was meant to be brewed at, thus the coffee does not stay hot as long as other coffee makers. At first this can seem like a defect but it actually results in better coffee with no bitterness.
The model we tested was the KBT 741 which comes with a thermal carafe that requires being pre-heated prior to brewing. Simply fill the carafe with boiling water and let it set for several minutes. This is a step that I don’t like for two reasons. One, it is an incredible waste of water to have to pre-heat your carafe every time you make a pot of coffee. Two, it just isn’t practical to pre-heat a carafe every morning while you prepare for your day. Make no mistake, the initial cups of coffee are hot and steaming but the coffee in the carafe beings to cool at a rate of about 10 degrees every 15 minutes. For the purists this is fine because coffee that sits for any length of time just loses its flavor. Coffee is meant to be made with fresh cold water, fresh ground beans and enjoyed the minute it has been brewed, and not 1-2 hours later.
When it comes to flavor we found that “hands down” the Technivorm Moccamaster brewed an outstanding cup of coffee. Because of the proper brewing temperature the coffee was almost identical to what you would taste from a press pot coffee maker. The resulting brews were clean with no bitterness and you could actually taste the subtle nuances of the particular blend. With a high quality coffee bean in this machine you can really achieve a great cup of coffee.
One last feature to mention that we really liked is the quiet brew cycle. The machine brews the coffee so quietly that it can surprise you at first. It is a small detail but one you can’t help notice the first few times you brew coffee. In fact, it is difficult to use a different coffee maker after using the Moccamaster without missing the quiet brew cycle of the Technivorm.
As with most things in life, nothing is perfect and such is the case with the Moccamaster. There were several let downs but all things you can live with if your main concern is a great tasting coffee.
No automatic shut off
This was surprising but not as big of an issue as you might think. Once the coffee cycle has completed, the main heating element no longer receives power. There is an on off switch that will stay lit until you turn it off. It is a small annoyance but one that frankly is hard to understand for a machine with such an expensive price tag.
This actually was one of the more annoying problems we encountered with the Moccamaster. On the bottom of the machine there is a footplate that the thermos sits on during brewing. Even though it locks into place it came loose regularly. After awhile it just got irritating every time you would pull the machine forward to make coffee only to have it come unhinged again. Again, for such an expensive coffee maker this should not happen.
Manual quick cup feature
On most high end machines you can “sneak a cup” of coffee even if the brew cycle is not complete and it won’t drip when you remove the carafe. Just pull out the carafe, pour and put it back so the machine can complete the brew cycle. With the Technivorm Moccamaster you need to flip up a small plastic switch on the filter basket to stop the coffee and then flip it back once you put the carafe back so the brew cycle can complete. Again not a big deal by any means but for the cost of the machine it seems like it should be a simple enough feature to incorporate.
What makes this even odder is that there is actually a small white button at the bottom of the machine which automatically turns off the brew cycle if the carafe is removed during brewing. Even though it stops brewing, the water keeps dripping. So if you don’t flip the small plastic switch you will have a mess.
Filter basket does not completely drain.
Many times while making coffee the removal of the carafe would shake the machine. This action would cause water that had collected in the filter basket to drip on the footplate.
Coffee carafe does not fit in machine with carafe cap.
When you brew the coffee with the thermal carafe model you do so directly into the carafe with the cap off. Once the brew cycle is complete you screw on the cap. However, once the cap is on the carafe then it no longer fits back under the filter basket. Why it was engineered this way made no sense at all. This must have been an issue with many customers since our unit actually came with a special screw on cap that allows the coffee to drip into the carafe but still retain some of the heat. With this replacement cap it fits as it should back under the filter basket on the footplate.
In spite of a few odd engineering features the Technivorm Moccamaster brews the best drip cup of coffee we have tasted. It is a costly investment up front but one that is well worth it. If you can live without all the bells and whistles of other coffee makers on the market, then this is one machine any coffee lover would appreciate.
Technivorm Moccamaster review sample was provide by Williams-Sonoma